Friday, September 06, 2013

Could be worse...could be a spider



I read somewhere that forcing yourself to smile can actually lift your mood, so I find myself smiling at random times – like right now sitting at my desk, for example, or when I’m sitting at a red light on Euclid Ave that has decided it won’t ever change to green – and the forced smile feels a lot like the one Sheldon Cooper wears when he’s been told it’s necessary for him to fulfill a social obligation that he completely disdains: false and creepy.

I’m not an incredibly social person to begin with. I have a few friends in Minnesota that I text every so often, hang out with even less frequently, and - when the situation is absolutely unavoidable – whom I call on the phone. Back home, I was used to talking to co-workers, living with Daylow, my animals and some tenants. Sometimes I’d chat with the neighbors, and by “sometimes,” I mean when I accidentally made eye contact on my way from the car to the back door. That was the extent of my wild social calendar.
So it’s amazing that out here in SoCal, living in a house with 5 other people, working with the same number of friendly co-workers, and seeing my MN friends with roughly the same frequency (which is and was almost never), I feel so much more alone. 

Down the road from my former office building in Minnesota, there was a small sheep farm. Every day during the spring and early summer, the lambs and sheep would rotate from one quadrant of the farm to another, presumably for grazing purposes, and they all looked just the same. Just a giant family of sheep, except there was this one llama amongst them. One lone, super tall llama, just grazing and looking around at the sheep thinking, “Where the hell am I?” 

Right now, I am that llama. 

And suddenly, I want to run back to that field in Minnesota and grab that llama by its giant neck and hug him and tell him that he’s a super tall sheep. Or maybe I’d tell him that his llama friends back home send their love, but really he should be happy here with the sheep because they get to graze in a very geometric pattern every day and isn’t that wonderful? I’ll tell him that there is a reason he’s there with the sheep, and eventually he’ll learn to love the sheep and he’ll feel like he belongs with them. 

But it might take a while and it won’t be easy. And I’ll tell him to smile even if it feels fake.

Monday, August 12, 2013

New strategies

So my new psychiatrist wears Crocs. Blue ones.

I'm pretty sure that's an important detail, but I have yet to decide what that means.

It seems that many of my past mental health professionals rocked questionable footwear. I wonder if that's something they learn in Crazy School. It might be a way to distract the patient from their $200 an hour rate.

He also stands the entire session. Right next to a giant, comfortable, reclining lounge chair in faux suede. At first, I felt like it was an interrogation method designed to keep me talking, but then I realized he's not a therapist so the questions were more medical than psychological, so then I was just confused all together.Why wouldn't he want to recline? I wanted to recline. The couch was ok, but it was covered by a blanket the same way I cover my dog-eaten couches with blankets when company comes over.

Somewhere between asking about my erratic behavior and my hospitalization, he blurted that he suffers from chronic back pain which is triggered by sitting for long periods of time, which explained the standing thing but did NOT explain why he wasted money on a perfectly comfortable recliner if he was just going to pace around the whole hour.

I've found that shrinks prefer when I avoid personal questions about their footwear and their personal choices, so I just nodded my approval of his vertical lifestyle.

He declared that I've been misdiagnosed for years. Apparently I don't suffer from depression, which kind of explains why my antidepressants don't really work very well.

Instead, he believes I'm bipolar, and have been misdiagnosed in the past because my manic phases are very short compared to textbook bipolar patients. The treatment for bipolar disorder (also called manic depression) is an entirely different class of drugs which are considered mood stabilizers, and which are supposed to level out both the lows and the highs, versus just fighting against the lows.

This sometimes manic diagnosis might explain why I decided to rip of the bathroom floor tile in 2011 and, by the next day, decided that floor rugs would be a perfect substitution for actual flooring. Laying in bed and ordering Chinese delivery for six months seemed like a much better use of my time and resources.

He also gave me something for anxiety, but that seems only to make me sleepy like an antihistamine, so I'm not sure if that particular option is going to work out. I've got a med check coming up in three weeks, so we'll have to discuss other options (XANAX) at that time.

Meanwhile, I'm getting closer to moving out of the weird All-Man household and into the new place. Just 12 days until I've got hardwood floors (which will make me feel more at home because my MN house is all hardwood floors), a big back yard with a garden (which will make me feel more at home because I have a big garden in MN), and cohabitors who WEAR SHIRTS (which is not true of my MN house, but it's different when the shirtless person also sleeps in your bed).

 So things are looking up at the moment. Hopefully this means I'll soon be blogging about Happy Things and Funny Things instead of just Crazy Things.

For example, I saw a chicken at a garage sale.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

My anxiety is so bad, ya'll

I'm trying to keep busy. I really am.

I've noticed that the days when I have made plans to meet an actual human being are the days when I feel the most calm.

So Friday I met a co-worker for a cocktail while I waited for a girl date with a woman I met on Craigslist, who is also looking for friends in the area. It was a fun hang, and the bartenders were interesting. One of the servers is actually from Thief River Falls, MN which I've heard of, but am not sure why. Everyone was worried about me meeting a stranger from Craigslist and were pretty sure I was going to end up dead in a gutter or missing my kidneys, but I assured them I'd watched Craigslist Joe the night before, so I knew how to survive. And maybe even get a movie deal out of it.

Then I met the woman - we'll call her Sunny - and we had another beer (well, she just had 1/2 a beer, but I'll forgive her because she was too beautiful to judge) and some gastropub food, and we talked about how we ended up in So Cal. She's from NYC and has been here two and a half years, but met her serious boyfriend early into that stint, and therefore has neglected her female social circle. I'm hoping we hang out again sometime. Preferably after I'm medicated again.

I wasn't ready to go home after she left, so the co-worker was kind enough to come back and we watched a bunch of drunk people bounce around on the dance floor. I also met a gaggle of gay men who were very very young, very very pretty, and very very drunk. One of them looked exactly like Neil Patrick Harris (minus 20 years). I got a couple of their numbers, but am quite sure that A) they don't remember me and B) they are too young to provide a satisfying hang should I even get the chance to try. The servers were all very glad to see that I'd survived my incredibly dangerous encounter with a mid-twenties IT professional. I just shrugged and flexed my biceps to show them how I'd managed it.

We walked to a couple more bars, but it was late enough that everyone was obnoxious instead of charming. I was interested to see a taco stand outside the back door of one bar - good idea for selling 2 a.m. tacos to people trying to sober up enough to drive. The co-worker bough some food, and while he was in line, I ended up talking to some other very young, stoned surfer types.

It's universally true that Californians believe their state is superior. Everyone insists I will never want to leave now that I'm here. Which is funny because there hasn't been a moment in the last month that I haven't wanted to run screaming back to Minnesota. The only things holding me back are the rent I've already paid for August and September, the psychic reading that told me I'd feel this way for the first two months, and the fact that I haven't eaten at In N Out yet.

Oh, and August in MN means that it's almost September, which may as well be December for all the summer that's left.

I was telling the stoned surfers that I've been attending some outings with groups I found on Meetup.com and one of them was all, "Dude, my mom totally loves that website. All her friends are from there." I think he meant to convey that Meetup.com is really awesome for some people, but what he actually conveyed was that I'm a hell of a lot older than him. I'm in the category of women he associates with his mother.

Yesterday I woke up with a hangover-style headache which was weird because I wasn't drunk at any point the night before, but I rolled with it and slept most of the day. Then I started another marathon of The United States of Tara on Netflix, a show about psychiatric disorders which helps me to feel a little less crazy. I also decided to treat myself to lunch and a movie, but none of the movies looked good, so I wasted several dollars in the book store instead. I looked for books about dealing with anxiety, but those invariably make me want to murder small children. I don't want to meditate when I'm focusing on keeping my stomach away from my tonsils.

Today I met an acquaintance for lunch and hated every second of it. I'm not sure if it's the guy I don't like, or the fact that my stomach has become permanently lodged in my throat and is a signal that I might freak the fuck out and enter Full Blown Panic mode at any moment. Outside the restaurant, a large group of flamboyantly dressed Latin folks congregated, and we eventually learned that it's some kind of holiday in Bolivia today. They were preparing to parade around the outdoor outlet mall. I've never seen so many long braids in one place, and I kind of wanted to cut one off and take it with me. I'm going to avoid introspection about that desire. I think that's for the best.

Finally I remembered that a friend recommended vitamin B6 for anxiety, so I ran to the world's most Hispanic-packed Wal-Mart and bought some. Hopefully it will tide me over until my psychiatrist appointment on Friday, because for a few minutes today, I found myself wondering if I was going to end up in the hospital again.

Then Scary ate one of the ear pieces on my ear buds and I spent ten minutes trying to fish the cheese grater looking piece out of her mouth.

So aside from the crippling anxiety, it was a pretty good weekend.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Home sweet nope



Because I didn't want to live with my dad and stepmother upon my arrival to California, I arranged my living situation while I was still in Minnesota. 

This means that I moved into a house in Orange County, sight unseen. A house, I later learned from almost everyone I've talked to, is in a Bad City. Dangerous City. City full of Asians, Hispanics, and doughnut shops. Those three things alone don't seem bad - Shakopee, MN is like the Little Mexico of the Midwest. But apparently the area is still up and coming, so it's shady to be walking around after dark. 

The stop sign in front of the place is tagged with graffiti, front and back.

But I've got pepper spray and a seriously dangerous tongue. So that doesn't bother me much. Really, the problem is that it's a house with four men.

Four. Men.

Having lived in a house with four adults for a couple of years, I figured it would be a cinch. But I forgot that either the man/woman ratio has been even, or there has been an abundance of vaginas in every case. 

Did ya'll know that men are weird?

There’s Mr. Hispanic, the retired guy. He’s going to school to get re-certified in automotive smog testing and state certification. That’s something new to me – Either Minnesota doesn’t give a fuck about having clean air, or California’s air is just *that* much worse. Or the broke government in CA just wants additional revenue from drivers getting smog certification testing. Mr. Hispanic walks around shirtless all day long, but is never without a blue tooth in his ear. He just took in two teacup chihuahuas, and he spends most of his time trying to get them to poop outside.

Then there’s the nameless black guy. I say that because no one in the house knows his name. Literally no one. I introduced myself once when we met in the hallway, and he turned around, went into his bedroom and shut the door. He has tall hair and makes frequent, righteously indignant phone calls while pacing the property.

There’s also John, the uber religious guy who works two jobs and goes to school and also, at some point, was an aspiring model. Or is one, I'm not sure. I just know I saw his head shots and he could totally be a model. Tall with eyelashes nearly as tall as he is. He’s the one who contacted me about the room being available. The landlady was going to try to find a disabled tenant, and John felt this would make the living situation awkward. Or something, I wasn't really listening after I saw his pictures.

The fourth guy was originally thin white kid (also didn't catch his name), but he moved out (and - we think - in with a maybe pregnant girlfriend), so then Mr. Hispanic's also-Hispanic brother moved in. The brother is very nice, but is painfully shy – the other day, I was walking into the garage and he was walking towards the bathroom. Startled to see me, he apologized (for existing?) and practically ran back the way he’d come. 

Then there’s Filipino the landlady. She lives in the home. Kind of. I’ve never met her. I guess she does in-home health care and is rarely at her own house, so Mr. Hispanic is kind of in charge in her absence. 

Actually, I guess The Rules are in charge. 

There are pieces of paper posted to the walls in nearly every room of the house. Coming from my house in Minnesota – that I own – this has been quite a shock to the system. Also made me wonder why I never thought to post house rules in my own home, seeing as I have two tenants at any given time. 

Then again - aside from last year's Zebra Cakes tenant, I’ve never run into problems.

But the landlady is very serious about her rules, some of which are such basic courtesy that it makes me scared to live here. My favorite is that you must spray air freshener after using the bathroom. She says there are 4 scents to choose from, but you'll notice that the note was dated May 2012, so now we're down to only 1. 

Actually, I bought one scent myself but it mysteriously disappeared around the time when think white kid moved out. I'm guessing he needed it to mask the smell of his pregnant girlfriend.















Between the penis and the rules, after owning my own place for so long, I'm really not feeling at home here, so after a little less than a month, I've decided I'm moving the fuck out.

I found another room nearby in a house with a young couple, their two daughters, and another female tenant. It feels more like home than this place, and it's a little cheaper. Scary hates it there because they have three other EXTREMELY hyper dogs, however Scary is old and does nothing but lay around in my bedroom. I'm sure I can run interference if necessary.

If not? 

Well, I can always move again.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's been a few minutes and a few hundred miles

When last we spoke, I was pacing my living room in Shakopee, Minnesota, filled with righteous indignation and full blow panic over my doctor's refusal to refill a medication that was supposed to keep me calm.

Right now, I'm laying in a stranger's bed in my rented room in a primarily Asian neighborhood of Santa Ana, California, riding out the (hopefully) last few days of an ear infection, and the only medication I'm on is Amoxicillin.

It's been a weird month wherein I accepted a transfer to my employer's So Cal office, purposefully went off my medication, packed myself and Scary up and moved to California. My step-grandmother just died, Daylow is desperate for me to come back to Minnesota, and I've been sick for a week with no hearing in my left ear. 

I feel incredibly out of place here, but I'm sure that will pass given longer than a couple weeks. I'm hoping this move will kick the winter SAD right in the ass, but for the time being, I'm alone and lonely. I'm hoping the change of scenery will inspire me to be healthier and happier, but for now I'm just sick. I'm hoping I'll make new friends and meet new people, and that is starting to happen - and will likely continue - after I feel better and start going to meetup groups again. I'm hoping I'll start writing again, but at the moment this feels very forced and fake.

But you have to start somewhere, huh? Any where better to start than a zip code in Orange County.

Ironically, the cable here doesn't include Bravo, so I can't watch The Real Housewives of the OC.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

This must be what meth is like


This lady.
This is what I feel like right now.





Here's The Thing:

Don't ever.

Don't fucking EVER.

Go off your medications cold turkey.

First, let me tell you that it was not my intention to go off my medication. Like everything that's happened lately with the medical system, my depression and anxiety medication refills went horribly wrong. I've been off of them - because I ran out of them - since Saturday. Today is Wednesday, did you know that?

I'm working from home today because I FINALLY got my general practitioner to refill my existing prescriptions this morning, but he didn't think it was a good idea for me to be at work. Or in public at all.

I've been pacing around my house looking for projects all day. I hung a curtain rod. I hung some photos. I finished remodeling the bathroom. I worked all day from home as well.

And now I'm sitting here blogging because I don't know what the fuck else to do. I'm literally shaking with anxiety and this weird nervous energy I'm not used to. I'm at the point where I'm considering demolishing a wall in my house just so I have something to fucking DO.

It's raining, so yard work is out of the question.

My roommate cooked, so that's not necessary.

I'm too anxious to give a fuck about cleaning, I want to build something/break something/fix something/burn something.

I want to smoke 800 cigarettes at the same time. I want to shave my head so that I can watch it grow back all night long.

It probably doesn't help that I've been unable to really sleep for about 4 days now, and I'm exhausted and wired at the same time. I feel like this is what coke would do to me. Or meth. Or not being depressed.

I may just write a novel here, actually, so that I have something to keep my hands busy with.

I've cried three times today for no reason at all. I've yelled at my computer for taking too long to open an Excel worksheet. I swore out loud at a stupid email question, and I swore out loud when I fucked something up in a work request.

I want to dance and cry and break things all at the same time. The only things I don't want to do are sit still, masturbate, and sleep. Oh god, if only I could sleep.

I tried watching TV and didn't make it to the first commercial before I had to get up and move. I bought a cross stitch pattern yesterday to give my hands something to do, and that lasted two rows before I decided that the stupid Bengal tiger could go fuck itself if it wanted me to stitch it into existence any longer.

I'm thinking that booze might be the only option, although I've been directly told it's counter-productive to my general feelings of health and well being.

Frankly, I want to try to demolish the glass Coors bottle with my teeth so that I can spend the evening pulling glass shreds out of my gums with a pair of needle nose pliers. At least I would have something to do.

I literally have no point in writing this, no joke to make, no reason to write. I have nothing to say, just feel like it's helping to type and type and type.

So this should be super fun to read.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go walk between the kitchen and living room for the next hour.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mental

I admit, my last post was quite apocalyptic - that happens to be how I was feeling. Much has happened since, including hospitalization.

I went in for my psychiatric assessment last Tuesday, and half-way through the meeting, the licensed social worker thought it might be advisable to admit myself into the adult behavioral health ward at the hospital next door. I've since learned the acronym S.I., or "suicidal ideation," which just explains my frequent thoughts of driving my car off of the road into a river or a tree or a ravine, or how I'd wonder how many pills I have in the house, what kind they are, and whether taking them all would allow me some respite of the permanent variety.

I've never moved from the "ideation" stage to the "action" stage, so I can't say I was sure at the time that I might harm myself, but I did realize that I needed to do something in order to get well.

The social worker walked me into the ER, told them why I was admitting myself, and I was in a surveilled, locked room with my belongings removed and total supervision in less than 5 minutes. I'm a clumsy gal, and I've had my share of ER visits, but I've never seen anything move that quickly before. The poor ER administrator ladies were all but fumbling their words in an attempt to whisk me away to safety.

Veronica was with me - she'd wanted to accompany me for support and a delicious lunch afterwards - so at least I was entertained during my stay. She helped me work out how to notify my boss of my sudden leave of absence in a way that would not divulge the personal weakness behind it, and she also fed me Bugles, which was awesome because I'd opted not to eat prior to my appointment in anticipation of the delicious meal I was expecting.

Soon, I was rolled up into the mental health ward, where I quickly realized exactly what I'd gotten myself into: locked in.

Locked in with no belongings. Locked into a hallway where guests were stripped of almost all belongings, especially anything sharp, of a length to tie a knot, or of the electronic (electrocution?) persuasion.

Inside of the locked ward was a second, more securely locked ward. That's where I went.

I gave my life story to a nurse (for the third time of the day) including my primary physician's name and location, the details of my S.I., my alcohol use, my history of depression and anxiety, the reason for my admission, how I heard about the mental ward at this particular hospital, whether I felt I was in danger of self-harm at that moment, my medical history, how my brain injury occurred, whether I was currently in any pain, what my goals were for my stay, on and on and on.

I was in far too much awe of my decision to really grasp what was happening until after a few hours, after Veronica and Daylow both had left for the evening and I was left alone in a room with no light switches, no telephone cords...where the thermostat was hidden behind a metal plate in the wall and the only luxury allowed were magazines (after the nurse had flipped through each page, searching for god knows what).

Because my anxiety had been at an all-time high for several days (thanks, Wellbutrin!!!!), they immediately prescribed something to alleviate the roller coaster dropping feeling in my stomach, and unsure of the rules for sleeping, I spent several hours reading and re-reading a magazine about gardening which Veronica had left.

The nurses frequently looked into my room, door safely left wide open, all night long. Once with a flashlight. Despite the medication, which made me feel like I was swimming in Benadryl, I didn't sleep very much or very well.

The next day only got more disturbing and/or therapeutic.